Monthly Archives: November 2013

4000 Days of Grief

“Night falls, with gravity. The earth turns, from sanity

Taking my only friend I know, He leaves a lot, his name is “Hope”.

I’m never what I like I’m double-sided.”

~ Twenty One Pilots “Semi-Automatic”

Tomorrow marks the end of three years as a public librarian. While I’m still  staying in the field, it’s odd to be leaving the job(well, one of the  jobs) I’ve worked for the past three years. Combine this with the  approaching 11th anniversary of my father’s death and I’m  just full of feelings. I hate feelings. I think they’re stupid. I wish I didn’t have them. As a result, I have a tendency to not talk about  them. EVER. I have recently been informed by someone who I care about  quite dearly that this is, perhaps, not the best decision I have ever  made. And while I think he is wrong about many things, he may, possibly, have a point about this. However, being emotionally crippled isn’t  exactly something one gets over easily, so I have decided that step one  is to simply emotionally vomit all over the Interwebz as opposed to an  actual person. So, pardon me while I spill my grief all over the page  for a few minutes.

I suffer from depression. I have for as long as I can remember. I am lucky that it is not a debilitating condition, but it has caused me a number of problems over the years. Due to a number of factors, both nature and nurture  related, I did my best to simply ignore this fact until a friend spent  most of our freshman year of college pushing me to get help. It is a  small miracle of some small god somewhere that I listened to him.

A few months later, on the Friday before Thanksgiving of 2002, my mother  called me at 7:59 AM to tell me that my father was dead. And at the  tender and horrifically impressionable young age of 19 my entire world  shattered into a million tiny little bits. Suffering a profound loss at  any age changes you, but that first experience with grief, real and  immediate earth shattering grief, it can break you. It changes the way  you see the world, your ability to trust people, to depend on people.  Suffering from depression makes it difficult to connect to people in  general. Add the death of a parent to that and you suddenly exist in a  world in which it becomes impossible to believe that anyone could  understand the kind of pain you feel. That deep biting pain that hurts  so badly that it becomes physically painful; it makes it impossible to  breathe or think or function. How do you even begin to talk to someone  about that?

So I’ve spent the last 11 years not talking. There  have been a handful of times, easily less than half a dozen, where I’ve  let slip bits or pieces but never anything of real depth. These are  almost always followed by periods of intense shame where I immediately  regret it. I feel bad for bothering people with my problems. Even this  has taken hours to write. The instinct towards silence after this many  years is a hard one to let go of. It bleeds into other areas of your  life and after a while you find yourself not really talking about  anything of depth with anyone. Minor annoyances or hurts, the emotional  equivalent of a knee-scrap, are acceptable topics, good news is always  shared, but the bigger hurts, the emotional broken bones and  concussions, those get swept under the rub or pushed to the side to be  ignored.

When I was a kid, 30 seemed like that sort of magic age.  Like hey, congratulations, you’re an adult now! By 30 I should have had  my career figured out, I should have known who I was, and where my life  was going. And instead, I’m 30 and I pretty much have no idea what I’m  doing at all. It’s like being perpetually stuck at a crossroads at high  noon and someone knocked all the road signs down so I don’t have any  idea where anything leads. I once had a boy tell me he wished he could  be what I needed. At the time, because I’m a fool by nature, I believed him and thought it was sweet; in hindsight, I wish I’d asked what he thought I needed. I always wonder if he could  have come up with a better answer than I’ve been able to.

Grief is this thing that worms its way inside of you and lives there forever.  Some days it just makes things a little bit slower, a little bit less  easy. Other days, even years later, it makes you curl up in the bottom  of the shower and cry hysterically. In the 11 years since my father has died, I have not gone a single day in which I do not have at least a moment of sadness. The pain is no longer as crippling as it was the first couple of years, most of the rage has drained away, and I no longer find myself compelled to write trite and embarrassing poetry. But it still hurts every day. And there are still times that I find myself furious that he is gone. And November is still, by far, the worst possible month for me. The grief, the depression, and the dreary weather seep away my motivation and leave nothing but a deep and desperate longing for something that I cannot seem to identify.

I wish that I was a stronger person. I wish that I had dealt with things better. And I wish that grief had an expiration date. But wishes, unlike grief, do not exist. So I will simply continue to muddle along and attempt to do better in the future than I have done in the past.

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REVIEW: London Falling by Paul Cornell

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Title: London Falling

Author: Paul Cornell

Publisher/Publication Date: Tor; pub. date April 16, 2013

I stumbled across London Falling when I was putting up a fantasy fiction display for my library. It had everything that I love in a book: Urban Fantasy, Police Procedural, Set in London. I’ve been looking for something to tide me over while I wait for the newest Ben Aaronovitch book so this seemed perfect. This is Cornell’s first urban fantasy novel; his previous work seems to be primarily graphic novels and some Doctor Who novelizations. The urban aspect is present from the word go in the book, opening with an undercover operation trying to nail a high level mobster type character. The desperation and panic present makes for a compelling opening. The fantasy aspect falls into line a little later in the book; Cornell’s plot works more with alluding to the supernatural than doing an out-right finger point at the beginning. The reader is exposed to this new supernatural underbelly in much the same manner as the characters in the book. As the characters learn more about what is going on, so does the reader. For me personally, this made the book a little bit more difficult to get into. The confusion and disparity between the characters comes through in some of the plot making it difficult to follow in some places.

But, there was enough promise in the book so I stuck with it. As the plot develops, it became much more enjoyable. The characters start to become a more cohesive group and more of the fantastical aspects began to come forth(characters and magic, it’s what I’m all about). The dark and gritty nature of the book remains prevalent throughout. There isn’t a lot of humor or a lot of wins to cut that which can make it a somewhat dreary read. If you’re looking for humor and hi-jinx, this is not the book for you. A lot of urban fantasy has this dark and gritty nature, it’s a large part of what gives the genre the “urban” descriptor. But in many books there’s either humor, romance, or small wins throughout that help break up the dark and oppressive nature of what is being fought against. In London Falling it’s more a continuing succession of near misses, fails, or painful victories that advance the plot and help the characters move forward towards nicking the criminal. Sefton and Ross, two of the main characters, both make big discoveries in the novel but both also suffer for it. There are no easy wins.

I’m glad I found Cornell’s book and I genuinely hope that he has a go at making this a series. I think the characters have a lot of potential and even though it’s darker than my usual reads, I liked the realism that is so tightly entwined with the fantastical in the novel. There’s a lot of darkness in the world, a lot of horrible and awful things, and seeing Cornell’s characters really struggle with that, both externally and internally, makes for a fascinating read.  

 

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